July 17, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 19

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    Three faculty members, their families make the residential commitment to foster ‘life of the mind’

    By Lien Payne
    News Office

    This fall, three members of the University faculty and their families will welcome students as new Resident Masters at Snell-Hitchcock, Burton-Judson Courts and Pierce Tower. They will join a group of 26 faculty members who have served as Resident Masters in the House System since its inception in 1970.

    “The presence of Masters has been key in fostering a culture that supports the life of the mind and provides a sense of community in the College houses,” said Cheryl Gutman, Deputy Dean of Students for Housing and Dining. “Masters are an essential component of the residential life program at the University.”

    John Boyer, Dean of the College and the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History, said, “Our faculty recognizes the important role that College residential life plays in the education of our students. Over the years faculty members from many fields have served as Resident Masters. Their work and that of their families provides powerful evidence of the College’s commitment to creating a community in which liberal education can flourish.

    “I am very grateful to the departing Masters who have served us so well, and to the incoming Masters, who will continue that tradition of service to our students,” Boyer said.

    Joshua Scodel, Professor and Chairman of Comparative Literature and a Professor in the College, and his wife, Mayumi Fukui, Vice President for Managed Care in the University Hospitals, are preparing this summer for their new roles as Resident Masters in Burton-Judson Courts.

    “Over several visits to Burton-Judson during the last weeks of school, I began talking with the Resident Heads and students about Burton-Judson and the Resident Master’s role in the dorm,” said Scodel. “I’ve also begun going through the e-mail archive of the dorm, which gives you a great picture of the week-by-week events there in years past.”

    Fukui and Scodel, who has been a member of the University’s faculty since 1985, have one daughter, Sarah, 12, who attends the University’s Laboratory Schools. She will reside with her parents in Burton-Judson Courts.

    Robert Chaskin, Associate Professor of the School of Social Service Administration and Research Fellow at the Chapin Hall Center for Children, and his wife, Catherine, who practices law at Sachnoff & Weaver in Chicago, will join the community at Snell-Hitchcock residence hall. The Chaskins served as Resident Heads in Woodward Court from 1993 to 1995 while Robert Chaskin obtained a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University. The Chaskins believe that experience will make their transition to the Resident Master position a speedy one. They very much look forward to living in close community with undergraduates again.

    “We plan to spend some initial time listening and observing, so we can best continue well-loved traditions of Snell-Hitchcock and look forward to introducing new ideas and activities based on the interests of the incoming students and the Resident Heads,” Robert Chaskin said. The Chaskins have two children, Hannah, 13, and Nicholas, 10, both of whom attend the University’s Laboratory Schools, who will live in Snell-Hitchcock as well.

    Christopher Woods, Assistant Professor in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and the College, and his wife, Jennie Myers, a Research Associate in the Oriental Institute, are preparing for their move into Pierce Tower. Relatively new to the University, they are looking forward to integrating themselves more fully into the College community by getting to know undergraduate students on a more intimate level than classes allow.

    “We are very excited to join the Pierce community; we know that it is quite a social dorm, close-knit, because of the layout of the building with its common spaces. We hope to further bring out these qualities. Also, we hope to provide a sense of family for the students,” said Woods. Like the Chaskins, he and Myers will rely on student feedback for program planning. “We’ll see what the students want to do and take it from there,” he said.

    Woods and Myers also have had previous experience in residency programs. While attending Harvard University as a graduate student, Woods was a freshman proctor, and both he and Myers served as resident scholars there during his postdoctoral program. Woods and Myers have a 6-week-old son, Alexander.

    The new Resident Masters all plan to encourage students to participate in various cultural activities in the greater Chicago area in addition to the special activities they coordinate within their residence halls. A list of typical Masters’ activities would include symphony concerts, the Lyric Opera and Chicago theatre, in addition to more casual entertainment and recreation, such as trips to baseball games and the Second City. Resident Masters also hold events in their homes that bring other members of the faculty and students together for informal academic discussions based on faculty members’ work or thoughts on topics such as the arts and current events.

    “We’re excited about the prospects of helping to connect students to the life of the University and the rich opportunities that the city of Chicago offers, including some of the less-known venues for theater and art,” said Robert Chaskin. They also are pleased to be able to create opportunities for students and faculty to interact in more relaxed and social circumstances.

    Scodel expressed a similar vision, stressing the importance of intellectual discussion between students.

    “We hope to increase the sense of community in Burton-Judson as a whole with Master-sponsored events that will not only enrich students’ cultural and intellectual lives, but also help them bond with like-minded students both inside and outside of their house at Burton-Judson.”

    Lawrence Rothfield, Associate Professor in English Language & Literature, and his wife, Penny, will be entering their third year as Resident Masters in Shoreland Hall. Martin Stokes, Associate Professor in Music and the College, and his wife, Lucy Baxandall, will be entering their third year as Resident Masters in the Max Palevsky Residential Commons.